School Support Group Seeking Help

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Widespread rumors are untrue that the booster organization that has raised thousands of dollars and generated untold support for Payson School District extracurricular activities is folding.

The Friends And Neighbors (FAN) Club, which has its roots in a 2005 get-together of parents, held its monthly meeting Oct. 21 and plans to continue operating, said founding member Mikey Halenar.

What is occurring with the FAN Club is several of the original members are hoping to

spread their duties around and very few volunteers are showing up to help out.

Without more help, members must re-evaluate their commitments to the community and the school district.

“We are hoping more people step up,” Halenar said. “But we are committed to keeping our obligations through the end of the school year.”

Eileen Daniels, a club member since 2007, said officers are “putting some things on the back burner, but we are not folding.”

Payson High School Principal Roy Sandoval knows why the most dedicated of FAN Club members are growing weary after

years of service

“The leadership does so much, they might be exhausted,” he said. “They’ve carried the ball for a long time, and some of their kids are long out of high school.”

PUSD superintendent Casey O’Brien is also empathetic, “It’s unrealistic to expect a few dedicated parents can continue to maintain the club, they have given above and beyond.”

Both administrators also realize the club has been a huge supporter of extracurricular activities.

“I believe they are responsible for somewhere over $250,000 over the past several years,” Sandoval said. “Fund-raising, facilitating fund-raising, organizing and many times financing team banquets, charter buses to state level games — the list (of FAN Club contributions) is endless.”

O’Brien said it is his hope the club stays active in light of the district’s bleak financial future.

“Considering the financial pressure we will be facing the next couple of years, their absence would be particularly significant,” he said.

That’s because extracurricular funding from the M&O budget will likely be cut the next couple of years due to state budget cuts.

For students and parents, those cuts mean an increase in participation fees.

“Without the support of the FAN Club, those fees could certainly be impacted as we will have to absorb a greater share of the costs of equipment, uniforms and fees that the FAN Club has been there to support.”

Is there a way for the club to continue to be the robust organization it once was?

Both O’Brien and Sandoval agree there are ways to keep it vibrant.

“It’s going to take the next generation of parents and/or community members, willing to take the reins from these super volunteers,” O’Brien said.

Like O’Brien, Sandoval contends it can be salvaged “if a dedicated group of parents and community members step up and give the current leadership a rest.”

Sandoval, a PHS graduate, also sees the success of PHS parent support groups moving in cycles.

He remembers in the 1970s, when he was a student, Pete Ellis, Jess Nottingham, Bob Welker and many others were “working themselves to the bone on behalf of the kids.”

After those leaders stepped away, another group took over with their efforts.

“In the late ’80s and early ’90s it was Pat Velasco and the ‘Bruise Brothers’ parents that picked up the ball,” recalls Sandoval. “Then several years went by before the Fords, the Halenars and Tim Doherty (current FAN president) carried the flag.”

All those booster groups had one thing in common, Sandoval said, “a passion to help the kids and a whole bunch of organization skills.”

The bottom line is, the FAN Club is — contrary to rumors — up and running, but could soon be on life support without an infusion of new members willing to breathe life into the organization.

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